The Full Brazilian (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Mini-sode 203.5)

Éder is the immediate solution to our problem. One that I’m very, very happy with.

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 203

“What would you say to those who claim that walking into your first big club and spending £85M on a single player straight away shows your inexperience as a manager?” Smirks the l’Equipe reporter. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle as I lean in towards the microphone.

“I would say,” I start thoughtfully, “That sometimes you’re able to buy a player for the future at a lower price and that sometimes you need to spend more money to get an immediate solution to a problem area in your squad.” I stare unblinkingly into the reporter’s beady eyes as I plough ahead. “I would say that it’s no secret that if I had been appointed a few weeks earlier, I would’ve tried to make sure that certain transfers were cancelled, as I feel like we’ve been left short in some areas of the squad and bloated in others. Éder…” I gesture to my new Brazilian signing, set to my right. “… Is the immediate solution to our problem. One that I’m very, very happy with.”

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I can’t let them see how terrified I am. I cannot let them see how much I’m sweating under my trusty grey coat. Signing Éder from Manchester United is in my opinion the biggest gamble I’ve made in my career. Until now, that title has been held by my decision to join an Auxerre side that could have very easily been relegated into the French 3rd tier, but in full view of the entire World’s media, I have just made this 20 year old ball winning midfielder the most expensive Brazilian ever, shattering Kaká’s record transfer to Real Madrid by £27M. I’ll give you a moment to remember some Brazilian footballers. Maybe you’d like to remember Ronaldo. Maybe Ronaldinho, Socrates, Zico or Rivaldo. Maybe fucking Pelé. Whoever you’ve chosen to remember, Éder is now more expensive than them. It’s fair to say the move has turned heads.

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You see, it’s not just that I’ve signed a defensive midfielder for £85M. That in itself isn’t that much of a shock seeing as only a few weeks ago we sold Diawara to Barcelona for the exact same amount. The thing is, Diawara has proved over his career that he’s worth the money, whereas Éder… Well, just 2 years ago he joined United for £5.25M off the back of a couple of decent seasons for Santos and has made just 27 league appearances since, 16 of which were for Espanyol during a loan spell. He was good for Espanyol, but not £85M good. He was not good on his rare appearances for Mourinho’s men.

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I have also, ridiculous as this is to say as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, never shown that I am good at spending money. I’ve been excellent on a shoestring if I say so myself, bringing in gems like Hurley, Aires, Olivier and Traore for Angrense, Sohna, Kakuba, Joël, Aidir and Masango for Santos, the Santos 4 and players like Foden, Billy, Doucouré and Vidal for Auxerre. The thing is, it’s all relative. After Aidir, my most expensive signing at Santos was Yanga Baliso, a thoroughly unimpressive left winger. My most expensive signings for Auxerre were Fabian McCarthy and Amine Reynier, who I suppose still have time to become impressive players, but under my reign were very average. At Katowice, there were a couple of good signings like Danny Wilson and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton, who I never had a chance to use but who went on to make the club a great profit, but you need to weigh that against my £43k signing of Alan Hutton. My point is, the players I’ve signed for big money relative to the clubs I’ve managed have tended to be some of my worst signings, while the cheaper ones have generally been pretty good. So for me to go straight out and throw £85M at a largely untested Brazilian ball winner 3 matches into my PSG tenure, eyebrows have been raised.

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I considered once again just not buying anyone at all. Maybe it’d all be alright with the squad I already have at my disposal. Maybe Neves and Kovacic can provide all the defensive cover I’ll need as they’ve proved capable so far. But will I think the same way the next time we come up against Monaco? Will I think the same way if we go deep into the Champions League and come up against one of the best sides in the World? Simply, no. No I will not. We need a defensive midfielder.

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And my god I tried not to spend £85M. I really did. I looked everywhere. I looked in South America, Europe, I hoped for yet another gem from Africa, I looked down the back of the bloody sofa cushions, but all to no avail. Defensive midfielders and I mean real defensive midfielders, who are or at least have the potential to be world class are at an astonishing premium. I considered raiding Auxerre for someone like Sissako or Goujon, but aside from the fact that I really don’t want to break up that fantastic team, the cold hard truth is that they just aren’t at our level and they never will be. They won’t be able to provide what I need for this team. That’s why I’ve taken this risk. That’s why I let United haggle me up from my initial £60M bid. That’s why I’ve signed Éder.

He has all the tools to be successful. He has the athletic ability, the mental fortitude and the technical skills. With some guidance, he can be the complete defensive midfield powerhouse. The full Brazilian that we all need.

Please. Please mate. Become a fucking world beater.

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Episode 204 >

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An Unexpected Applicant (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Mini-sode 202.5)

Why would you want the job?

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 202

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I fall to my knees, the tears streaming down my face as my trembling hand holds the phone to my ear. I can’t breathe. I feel as if a huge weight is pressing down on my chest, restricting me to short, sharp gasps of air.

“I take it that’s a no then?” Asks the mildly annoyed voice from the other end of the phone. I use my free hand to wipe the tears from my blurry eyes.

“Of course it is, you bloody spoon!” I manage, through my hysterical laughter.

“Why?”

“Oh well let’s run through the checklist shall we?” I straighten up. “Because you bailed on Auxerre! Because you bailed on me! Because you’re the Hull City manager for fucks sake! Why would I want you as my assistant again?” I pause, the laughter now well and truly gone from my voice. “Frankly, Peter, why would you want the job?”

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“I do my best work for England.” Crouch replies glumly.

“Oh I know you do.” I pull myself back into my office chair, still holding the phone to my ear. “I haven’t forgotten. 20 goals in-”

“22.” He cuts across me. “22 goals in 42 caps.”

“Right. Not really the point though, is it? We’re talking about the assistant manager’s job and I need someone I can trust.” He starts to protest, but I cut him off. “Besides, I’ve already hired someone.”

“Have you?” He sounds quite hurt. “Who? Bechkoura?”

“No, Bechkoura’s sticking with France, the unappreciative tit… It’s Rui Faria.”

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“Rui Faria?!” He groans. “Why does he even want the job? Aren’t his hands full with United?”

“Aren’t yours full with Hull?” I laugh. “You know… Being the manager and everything. And Faria’s great! He’s worked under Mourinho for years, worked at a load of top clubs…”

“Not scored any England goals though, has he.” Crouch replies bluntly.

“No, you’ve got me there.” I concede. “Sorry, Crouchy.”

“I just thought you could have used some international experience on your team, you know… After…”

“The Semi Finals is still a fucking achievement! Why will nobody agree with me?!” There’s a long, awkward pause.

“Is it though?”

“Yes. Good bye Peter. It’s been a pleasure as always.” I scathe, before hanging up and slamming the phone down on my desk. “It’s still an achievement.” I repeat quietly, to my empty office.

Mini-sode 205.5.5 >

Ligue 1 2024/25 (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Mini-sode 201.5)

Our perspective has been dramatically altered.

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 201

Here we go again then. It’s the beginning of my 4th full season in France and my 3rd in Ligue 1, but our perspective has been dramatically altered. In seasons past, I’d be looking down this list in terms of what pitfalls might await, who we’ll need to pick up wins against and which matches are just plain write offs. This year, we’ve really got to be looking down the list as “Which 18 teams should we beat comfortably?” plus Monaco.

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Athlétic Club Ajaccio

Nickname: L’ACA

Manager: Olivier Pantaloni (9 years, 276 days)

From: Ajaccio

Ground: Stade François Coty

Last Season: 17th

Predicted: 20th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Sporting Club de Bastia (Fierce, Local), OGC Nice (Local)

My Record: W4 D0 L2

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Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise

Nickname: L’AJA

Manager: Juninho (Caretaker)

From: Auxerre

Ground: Stade Abbé Deschamps

Last Season: 6th

Predicted: 15th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Dijon FCO (Local)

My Record: N/A

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Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club

Nickname: Les Monégasques

Manager: Luis Enrique (11 days)

From: Monaco

Ground: Ettori Park (Built 2019)

Last Season: Champions

Predicted: 2nd

Rivals in Ligue 1: OGC Nice (Fierce, Local), Olympique de Marseille (Local), Olympique Lyonnais (Competitive), Paris Saint-Germain (Competitive), Sporting Club de Bastia (Local)

My Record: W0 D0 L4

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Association Sportive NancyLorraine

Nickname: L’ASNL

Manager: Didier Santini (1 day)

From: Nancy

Ground: Stade Marcel Picot

Last Season: 1st in Ligue 2 (Promoted)

Predicted: 14th

Rivals in Ligue 1: FC Metz (Fierce, Local), FC Sochaux-Montbé (Local)

My Record: W2 D1 L0

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Association Sportive de Saint-Étienne Loire

Nickname: Les Verts

Manager: Claude Makélélé (1 year, 199 days)

From: Saint-Étienne

Ground: Stade Geoffrey-Guichard

Last Season: 9th

Predicted: 9th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Olympique Lyonnais (Fierce, Local), Olympique de Marseille (Historic), FC Nantes (Historic), Paris Saint-Germain (Competitive)

My Record: W2 D0 L2

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Dijon Football Côte d’Or

Nickname: Le DFCO

Manager: Daniel Moreira (112 days)

From: Dijon

Ground: Parc Des Sports Gaston Gérard

Last Season: 2nd in Ligue 2 (Promoted)

Predicted: 19th

Rivals in Ligue 1: AJ Auxerre (Local)

My Record: W2 D1 L0

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En Avant de Guingamp Côtes-d’Armor

Nickname: Les Costarmoricains

Manager: Michel Der Zakarian (123 days)

From: Guingamp

Ground: En Avant de Guingamp Stadium (Built 2019)

Last Season: 15th

Predicted: 12th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Stade Rennais FC (Local), FC Lorient (Local), FC Nantes (Local)

My Record: W2 D0 L2

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Football Club Lorient-Bretagne Sud

Nickname: Les Merlus

Manager: Djamel Merdjett (4 years, 229 days)

From: Lorient

Ground: Gourcuff Stadium (Built 2021)

Last Season: 3rd

Predicted: 7th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Stade Rennais FC (Local), FC Nantes (Local), En Avant de Guingamp (Local)

My Record: W2 D0 L3

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Football Club de Metz

Nickname: Les Grenats

Manager: Cláudio Caçapa (2 years, 202 days)

From: Longeville-lès-Metz

Ground: Stade Saint-Symphorien

Last Season: 11th

Predicted: 16th

Rivals in Ligue 1: AS Nancy Lorraine (Fierce, Local), Football Club Sochaux-Montbéliard (Local)

My Record: W1 D1 L1

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Football Club de Nantes

Nickname: Les Canaris

Manager: Frédéric Hantz (4 years, 240 days)

From: Nantes

Ground: Stade Louis Fonteneau (La Beaujoire)

Last Season: 8th

Predicted: 6th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Stade Rennais FC (Fierce, Local), Girondins de Bordeaux (Local), AS Saint-Étienne (Historic), FC Lorient (Local), En Avant de Guingamp (Local)

My Record: W1 D1 L2

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Football Club Sochaux-Montbéliard

Nickname: Les Lionceaux

Manager: Albert Cartier (8 years, 310 days)

From: Montbéliard

Ground: Stade Auguste Bonal

Last Season: 7th

Predicted: 11th

Rivals in Ligue 1: AS Nancy Lorraine (Local)

My Record: W2 D0 L3

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Football Club des Girondins de Bordeaux

Nickname: Les Girondins

Manager: Zinedine Zidane (235 days)

From: Bordeaux

Ground: Matmut Atlantique (Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux)

Last Season: 5th

Predicted: 5th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Toulouse FC (Fierce, Local), FC Nantes (Local), Olympique de Marseille (Competitive), Olympique Lyonnais (Competitive), Paris Saint-Germain (Competitive)

My Record: W2 D1 L2

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Lille Olympique Sporting Club

Nickname: Les Dogues

Manager: Eric Chelle (1 year, 159 days)

From: Villeneuve-d’Ascq

Ground: Stade Pierre Mauroy

Last Season: 16th

Predicted: 13th

Rivals in Ligue 1: N/A

My Record: W2 D0 L2

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Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice Côte d’Azur

Nickname: Le Gym

Manager: Julien Sablé (156 days)

From: Nice

Ground: Allianz Riviera

Last Season: 12th

Predicted: 10th

Rivals in Ligue 1: AS Monaco (Fierce, Local), Sporting Club de Bastia (Local), Olympique de Marseille (Local), Athlétic Club Ajaccio (Local)

My Record: W0 D1 L3

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Olympique Lyonnais

Nickname: L’OL

Manager: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (1 year, 243 days)

From: Décines-Charpieu

Ground: Parc Olympique Lyonnais

Last Season: 4th

Predicted: 4th

Rivals in Ligue 1: AS Saint-Étienne (Fierce, Local), Olympique de Marseille (Fierce, Competitive), AS Monaco (Competitive), Paris Saint-Germain (Competitive), Girondins de Bordeaux (Competitive)

My Record: W1 D1 L2

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Olympique de Marseille

Nickname: L’OM

Manager: Jorge Jesus (230 days)

From: Marseille

Ground: Stade Orange Vélodrome

Last Season: 14th

Predicted: 3rd

Rivals in Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain (Fierce, Competitive), Olympique Lyonnais (Fierce, Competitive), AS Monaco (Local), OGC Nice (Local), AS Saint-Étienne (Competitive), Sporting Club de Bastia (Local), Girondins de Bordeaux (Competitive)

My Record: W0 D2 L2

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Paris Saint-Germain Football Club

Nickname: Le PSG

Manager: WT Franjo (0 days)

From: Paris

Ground: Parc Des Princes

Last Season: 2nd

Predicted: 1st

Rivals in Ligue 1: Olympique de Marseille (Fierce, Competitive), AS Monaco (Competitive), Olympique Lyonnais (Competitive), Girondins de Bordeaux (Competitive)

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Sporting Club de Bastia

Nickname: Le SCB

Manager: Jean-Marie Huriez (3 years, 195 days)

From: Furiani

Ground: Stade Armand Césari

Last Season: 10th

Predicted: 18th

Rivals in Ligue 1: Athlétic Club Ajaccio (Fierce, Local), Olympique de Marseille (Local), OGC Nice (Local), AS Monaco (Local)

My Record: W2 D0 L0

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Stade de Reims

Nickname: Les Rouge et Blanc

Manager: Arnaud Bey (1 year, 229 days)

From: Reims

Ground: Stade Auguste Delaune

Last Season: 3rd in Ligue 2 (Beat Bourg-en-Bresse 5-2 on aggregate in the playoff to win promotion)

Predicted: 17th

Rivals in Ligue 1: N/A

My Record: W0 D1 L1

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Stade Rennais Football Club

Nickname: Les Rouges et Noirs

Manager: Alaixys Romao (278 days)

From: Rennes

Ground: Roazhon Park

Last Season: 13th

Predicted: 8th

Rivals in Ligue 1: FC Nantes (Fierce, Local), En Avant de Guingamp (Local), FC Lorient (Local)

My Record: W3 D1 L0

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So that’s that. Paris Saint-Germain have been made favourites to lift the Ligue 1 title this year, despite not winning the thing since 2021. We have 6 players to Monaco’s 5 in the media’s “Dream Eleven” though, which proves 2 things: A) That we definitely have the upper hand in the title race as far as the media are concerned and B) That this league is in desperate need of at least a 3rd horse in the title race. I doubt it will happen any time soon though and certainly this year at least, the pundits and I agree on the fact that there will be 2 stallions running neck and neck down that final straight. Their names shall be Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco, guided by their jockeys WT Franjo and Luis Enrique.

Let’s turn the bastards to glue.

Episode 202 >